Last week the Welsh Government tabled nanny state legislation to remove reasonable chastisement from law and criminalise parents who smack their kids.
Since these plans were first announced, I have repeatedly spoken out against them and called on the Welsh Government to scrap them.
I'm very concerned about the potential criminalisation of many tens of thousands of decent, loving parents across Wales who use the occasional smack to discipline their children.
I strongly believe that the overwhelming majority of parents know where to draw the line between reasonable chastisement and child abuse. We've already have comprehensive legislation to deal with the abuse of children, and people quite rightly are prosecuted using the existing legislation, and they should face the consequences of the law in that regard.
I am particularly concerned about the potential impact of this on parents. In documents published by the Welsh Government, Ministers acknowledge that smacking a child post the ban could lead to parents having criminal records which could bar them from certain roles and jobs as well as prevent them from travelling to many countries overseas.
I am also concerned about how it will be enforced. Obviously, it's important that we have a promotion campaign about any change in the law, should a change come, within Wales, but we obviously have a lot of visitors, from England in particular - day-trippers et cetera - and it is crucial that we also communicate with them about a change so that they're not unwittingly breaking the law when they cross the border into Wales if they give their child a smack as a form of discipline.
The Welsh Government have quoted ‘research’ which shows 80% of parents don’t think it’s necessary to smack a child, and only 11% smacked their child in the last year. But infact this was only a small survey of 269 adults, who had previously agreed to be contacted by the Welsh Government, and were likely to be in favour of a ban already.
Real, representative polls on smacking show that Welsh adults are overwhelmingly against a ban.
ComRes polling shows 76% of Welsh adults do not believe smacking should be a criminal offence. Whilst the Government’s own survey of 1,298 people found that 64% think smacking shouldn’t be banned, and only 30% think it should.
Since the get-go, the Welsh Government has ignored the views of Welsh parents who are simply seeking to do the best for their children.
This proposal will lead to ordinary, loving parents facing arrest, prosecution and even conviction for using light physical discipline, and it won’t do anything to help kids who are genuinely at risk of abuse. In fact, it will distract the police and social workers by making them investigate every report of smacking, rather than focus their time on cases of real abuse.
Parenting is tough enough as it is. Instead of punishing loving parents who use the occasional smack we should be supporting them for taking responsibility for their children’s behaviour and help them to raise their children to reach their full potential in life.
A smacking ban is unpopular and incredibly patronising to parents. I will continue to oppose the Welsh Government’s plans and encourage others to do likewise.